Jewish Day School Study, 1993

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Members or Leaders > Jewish > Summary


During the last several decades, two opposing trends have been taking place. On the one hand, there has been growth in the Jewish day school movement. On the other, there has been a serious decline in Jewish supplementary school enrollment and a defection from Jewish life of growing numbers of Jews. These two opposing trends give rise to several questions including: What happens when intensive and extensive Jewish education confronts a world full of secular, intermixing and challenging modalities? What role does a Jewish day school experience play in Jewish continuity of its exponents?

This study seeks to assess the impact of Jewish all-day education. Questions such as the following are addressed: What kind of Jewish behavior do young adults who attend Jewish day schools exhibit? Do those who attended for longer periods of time demonstrate higher levels of Jewish observance and involvement? Is Jewish behavior of day school graduates related to things such as home background, Jewish camp experience, Israel visitation or study in Israel? What are the marriage patterns of graduates? Does a college education reduce the possibility that Jewish day school graduates will remain practicing Jews? In short, what is the Jewishness quotient of Jewish day school graduates who are at risk of losing their Jewish identity because of the lure of contemporary society?

Data File
Cases: 3,667
Variables: 61
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: 1993
Funded By
Irving Stone
Collection Procedures
Self-administered questionnaire
Sampling Procedures
The survey was administered to a purposive stratified sample of 8,536 graduates of 26 Jewish day schools in the United States. These included 16 institutions under centrist or modern Orthodox auspices, five under Conservative sponsorship, three trans-ideological communal schools, and two right-of-center Orthodox yeshivot. Orthodox sectarian "Litvish" yeshivot, Beth Jacob Schools, and Hasidic institutions (which together comprise about 40 percent of the total Jewish all-day school enrollment in North America) were not included in the study (with one exception) since their students and graduates, by and large, are not exposed to normative American societal influences.

The schools chosen were located in 19 communities: large and small Jewish localities in the Northeast, South, Midwest and West. Five elementary schools are in Greater New York; three in the Northeast; one in the South; and four in the Midwest. Eleven of the high schools are the secondary levels of educational institutions with kindergarten through 12th grade. Thus, the elementary school graduates of these institutions who did not continue in their education through high school are not included in this study.

The questionnaire was mailed to day school graduates who completed their elementary school education from 1965-1985 and high school graduates for the years 1970-1990.

A total of 3,020 questionnaires were mailed to the elementary school graduates, the number of known alumni of the 13 elementary schools. Five thousand five hundred and twenty six questionnaires were mailed to the high school alumni, about 60 percent of the randomly selected graduates of the 13 high schools.


Two thousand two hundred and seventy eight questionnaires, 75 percent of the total, were received by elementary school graduates; 4,095 of the high school alumni, 79 percent of the total, received them.

In all, 1,863 envelopes (742 sent to elementary school graduates and 1,121 mailed to high school alumni) were returned undelivered due to wrong or unknown addresses. A total of 6,673 questionnaires reached their destination. Three thousand six hundred seventy four completed questionnaires were returned, yielding a response rate of 55 percent.
Principal Investigators
Alvin I. Schiff
Mareleyn Schneider
Related Publications
Barak Fishman, S. and A. Goldstein. When They Are Grown They Will Not Depart: Jewish Education and the Jewish Behavior of American Adults. Waltham, MA, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University, 1993.

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Goldstein, A. and S. Barak Fishman. Teach Your Children When They Are Young: Contemporary Jewish Education in the United States. Waltham,MA, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University, 1993.


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The Jewish Week, Advertisement: "$1,000,000 Jews Can Now Be Rescued Right Here in North America," November 6-12, 1992.